What’s new this month

Spring is almost here, and the spring releases have finally arrived!

300954643/7 – The Bone Witch – by Rin Chupeco

A story about a girl who accidentally brings her brother back to life, revealing she’s a necromancer, or bone witch. Shunned by her community, she and her brother are taken in by an older bone witch so Tea can begin mastering her powers and other elemental magic. Trouble brews on the horizon and Tea needs to be ready. Pitched as a retelling of Memoirs of a Geisha with Name of the Wind.  I don’t often encounter retellings of modern stories, so consider me intrigued!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

314512673/7 – The Song Rising – by Samantha Shannon

Book three in this dystopian fantasy series finds Paige Mahoney the new queen of London’s Underworld, desperately trying to stabilize the secret voyant community as Scion attempts to destroy them once and for all. Now her enigmatic boss Jaxon Hall is her open enemy, and a new technology known as Senshield threatens to wipe out all voyants if they do not unite and act quickly. I really enjoyed the second book and I have high hopes for this one as Paige becomes even more powerful!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

257014633/7 – You’re Welcome, Universe – by Whitney Gardner

This debut novel has me very excited! Julia is a graffiti artist at Kingston School for the Deaf, but when she artfully covers up a slur directed at her best friend, her friend lands her in the principal’s office. Expelled, her mothers send her to a mainstream school, where she is the only deaf student. Isolated and outcast, she finds solace in her art—until that starts getting attention from a rival artist. I feel like I already love Julia and I can’t wait to read this story!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

303126173/28 – The Gauntlet – by Karuna Riazi

An MG novel pitched as steampunk Jumanji with Middle Eastern flair. (It’s only March and these pitches are killing it!) Farah and her two best friends are sucked into the game The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand and must defeat the game’s architect to free themselves and everyone else trapped inside the game—including her baby brother Ahmed. Of course they face inventive and terrifying obstacles! I know I will end up reading this in one sitting, it sounds absolutely fantastic!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

284492073/28 – Strange the Dreamer – by Laini Taylor

I read the teaser almost a year ago and I’ve been itching to get my hands on this ever since! Lazlo Strange is obsessed with finding the mythic, ruined city of Weep and learning what happened to it. There are mysteries, dead gods, living goddesses, and a bunch of other strange things. Solving the history of Weep is Lazlo’s dream, whether he wants it or not. It sounds similar to the Atlantis myth but beyond that it’s pure speculation as to what fresh wonders are in store for us!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble

299390473/28 – A Crown of Wishes – by Roshani Chokshi

I fell in love with the beautiful language and evocative imagery in The Star-Touched Queen and I have desperately wanted this book since its cover reveal (how can it be even more gorgeous?!) Gauri and Vikram made minor appearances in that book but they take center stage in this one as they compete to win the Tournament of Wishes and escape the constraints of their lives. In this ethereal world of myth and mystery I’m sure there are many surprises for them to uncover!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


Dreams of Gods and Monsters

13618440by Laini Taylor
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars

The rare trilogy where each book expands and improves on the previous one! I finally read the first book over a year ago, and I LOVED IT. I loved it so much I put off reading the next one until the end of last year—and I LOVED IT TOO. This was unheard-of. Naturally, I didn’t get around to this book until now, because of “end-of-trilogy” anxiety. This ending was pretty much perfect (a bit long, I think, so sometimes the pacing felt off to me).

Karou, Akiva, and the side characters (of which there are too many to list) captured my heart from the get-go, and what was added to this cocktail of amazing adventures and character arcs? Incredible world-building—like, my brain felt like it was expanding world-building. The first rule of fantasy is that if it’s on Earth, it is Secret. Vampires, werewolves, faeries—they do NOT reveal themselves. Our main-character-human interacts with them and that’s it. Most of the plot involves keeping it all a secret. But from the first chapters of this book, seraphs go to the Vatican. WHAT. It’s broadcast on live TV—world leaders have to handle the appearance of real angels in their midst—Karou and company face the reality of “oh…so now chimaera will be the demons if they reveal themselves, that’s great…” and not only do we have to deal with Jael’s evil army in Eretz, we have to find a realistic way to deal with him on Earth, with Earth’s religions and myths getting all tangled together with aghast scientists.

I loved this! (Because it was done so, so well). This book felt like the introduction of bigger and bigger stakes and finding ingenious ways for the characters to handle them. There is nothing more enjoyable than reading a book that walks characters into situations that have you going “well, they won’t get out of THIS!” and then they do so using a tactic you didn’t consider.

This series gets major points for good characters (especially non-cardboard side characters, something I worried about in the first book), world-building and originality. Also beautiful descriptions. Highly recommend for any fantasy lover!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Dreams of Gods and Monsters is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski – Another beautiful fantasy trilogy with an incredibly satisfying third book! Kestrel and Arin were tied together by fate when Kestrel accidentally won Arin as a slave. Their two countries are at war, and their growing feelings for each other threatened to tear everything apart. Check out this series if you love clever characters and twist after twist. See my review here.
  • Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo – A trilogy with an amazing ending! Alina and Mal can’t have peace until the Darkling is vanquished, but Alina’s power as the Sun Summoner is gone, and without it they don’t have a chance. This did not go as I expected and I highly recommend it, even if you didn’t like the second installment in the series.
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – Part one of a duology, in an alternate timeline where the Axis Powers won WWII and a group of rebels is trying to kill Hitler. Yael’s time as a Nazi captive had her undergoing terrible experiments which left her the ability to skinshift—change her appearance at will—and she is determined to avenge her loved ones by killing the Fuhrer herself. You’ll want to read this in one session! See my review here.
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – Echo is just a thief in NYC trying to survive, until she becomes involved in the war between Avicen (birds) and Drakharin (dragons) and their quest to find the Firebird: the one thing that could end the conflict. See my review here.
  • Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat – And finally, another trilogy with an amazing ending! (Very similar to The Winner’s Trilogy but for mature readers). Damen and Laurent have formed an uneasy alliance and are trying to keep their respective kingdoms from destroying each other. Neither of them can predict the lengths the Regent will go to in order to secure victory, and it will push both of them to their limits. Much strategizing and romancing ensues. See my review here.

Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood and Starlightby Laini Taylor
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars

It took me far too long to get around to this sequel (about 8 months) but part of it was the fear that it wouldn’t measure up to my love of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint! However, anyone hoping for some more Karou/Akiva time would be bummed—our two fantastic protagonists rarely meet in this book. Normally that would bother me, but in this case I was so engrossed in both of their plot lines I didn’t care—each time the point of view shifted I was just as interested, which is rare for me, especially since this book broadened to more viewpoint characters than the first one.

Although this is a very dark sequel, I still found myself enjoying it. Karou and Akiva are put in impossible situations with horrible villains (brutal, horrible villains) yet they don’t give up or despair. Their exhaustion, depression, and fear is palpable, but I love these characters because they feel it all without dragging the reader into twenty pages of introspection. They feel it all as they keep making decisions and taking action. They are still the fiery characters I fell in love with! My one complaint about the first book was that the side characters felt a bit cardboard to me, but that’s gone with this installment and aside from the pacing being a pinch slow, I loved this book!

I’ll attempt to make the final book more of a priority, but I admit the atmosphere (and the twist!) of this one is still soaking in.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Days of Blood and Starlight is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – A war with rising stakes, continually changing strategy, and a pair of star-crossed lovers caught in the middle (both by the war and their feelings for each other)? This is a pretty fair comparable trilogy if you remove magic. See my review here.
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – Another sequel leaving the dark forces as the only ones better off by the end, this is a worthy middle book in a YA fantasy trilogy. Except the villains might be more palatable in their villainy.
  • Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare – Tangled webs of romance, spies, and darkness rule this book, possibly my favorite in the trilogy. Tessa continues hunting down clues to her past and true identity while learning more about Will and Jem and their feelings for her.
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer – A bit overlong, but similar in tone and point of view to Laini Taylor’s trilogy. Cress is our newest heroine, freed from her satellite prison by Cinder’s crew and ready to help overthrow Levana. Add a touch of romance and a lot of adventure, and you have a good sequel. See my review here.
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – A bit too similar to first book for my taste, but with additional compelling characters and shocking developments with the unrest of the districts towards the capital. Katniss continues trying to protect those she loves, but that becomes much more difficult. See my review here.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

8490112by Laini Taylor
YA Fantasy
4 of 5 stars

This would have been a full 5 stars if the side characters didn’t feel like sit-com versions of people. The sarcastic best friend, the douchebag boyfriend….amusing yes, but also disappointing because the cardboard characters can’t really hold a scene.

But for the most part this was a theatrical, intriguing revamp of Romeo and Juliet and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Presenting Karou as the Mysterious Girl who is a mystery to herself kept me from raising an eyebrow about her flawlessness.

Spoiler!! (Although this book is 4 years old…)

If you don’t like love at first sight type relationships though, this may not be for you. The reasons they are drawn to each other mystify the characters, and is meant to be ignored in the face of bringing an end to the centuries-old war. However, as someone who has explored many a magic-filled world, the magic system in this story is fresh and interesting, and I couldn’t put this book down until I finished it.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer – This has a similar feel with quick pacing and a moderate level of romance. See my review here.
  • The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman – This is a bit of a stretch in terms of tone, but it features another mysterious heroine who more gradually forms a romantic relationship.
  • Persistence of Memory by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes – This YA fantasy features a mysterious heroine.
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick – This features a mysterious guy, and there’s slightly more romance.
  • If you want to up the romance much more, try anything by Cassandra Clare.
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore – Try this if you want more time for adventure and a slow-burn romance. See my review here.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky might be up your alley even though it’s not fantasy, since it also follows a mysterious protagonist. See my review here.
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker – Obviously if you’d like some good old-fashioned mystery and magic in the same region, you’d find it here.

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